Matt Morris Rumors
The latest trade and signing rumors from Ken Rosenthal:
- Rosenthal believes Alex Rodriguez's ability to play shortstop could increase the number of suitors. Take a look at the free agents - there may not be a single viable option at short this winter. Still, the number of suitors for Rodriguez is severely limited by his massive contract requirement. Not too many clubs aside from the Yankees and Red Sox can get in on $240MM over eight years or whatever. The lack of available, reasonably priced shortstops could compel the Braves and Orioles to aggressively shop Edgar Renteria and Miguel Tejada.
- As a 29 year-old free agent starter with decent stuff, Scott Boras could sell Kyle Lohse as the next Gil Meche this winter. Meche's work in the season's first three months would only aid the wishcasting. I put up a little Lohse history here, writing that his deal will likely fall somewhere between Jason Marquis and Meche. Other free agent starters who will be under 30 for the 2008 season: Carlos Zambrano, Jason Jennings, Joe Kennedy, and Byung-Hyun Kim.
- Rosenthal believes the Rangers will bid on Torii Hunter this winter unless they acquire a proven center fielder this summer. He mentions that Jon Daniels set his sights on Shane Victorino but the Phils would rather trade Michael Bourn. Unless the Rangers get a proven guy they will still go after Hunter.
- The Mariners scouted Jose Contreras and Matt Morris recently, but both were lousy. I still think Jennings could sneak in there as the best available starter, but he too hasn't pitched well in July. Definitely seems like the Mariners will snag some kind of starter.
- Rosenthal disputes Evan Grant's report of the Brewers and Indians showing interest in Kenny Lofton. The Brewers are getting Bill Hall back soon and the Indians have some outfielders on the road to recovery as well. Perfect, this frees him up for the Cubs!
- Rosenthal mentions the same teams I did for Kevin Millar, but sees an August deal as a possibility. Waiting until August doesn't seem to make sense for the Orioles, as things get trickier then.
- The Padres could trade Scott Linebrink in order to make payroll room for a starter. Or they could just sign Brian Lawrence. I discussed some other options for the Friars here.
Ken Rosenthal's got a new Full Count video over at FOXSports; have a look. Trade rumors:
- The Padres went with the Barrett/Bradley acquisitions in part because the price on Adam Dunn was just too high. Wayne Krivsky could get more teams involved if he exercises Dunn's 2008 option and tries to trade him in the offseason, a la Gary Sheffield. However, unlike Sheff, Dunn has full no-trade protection until June 15th if the option is picked up. Then on June 15th it switches to a ten-team consent list of Dunn's choosing. The bottom line: the time to trade him is now.
- The Giants are listening to offers for Matt Morris, but might prefer to just keep him. He sets an example for younger pitchers and his contract isn't terrible. I think this would be a mistake on the part of Brian Sabean. Morris's performance this year just seems unsustainable given his 4.5 K/9. While I recently mentioned Jason Jennings as the best available starter after Buehrle, Jennings' health issues could push Morris to #2.
- Rosenthal also mentioned that should he reach free agency, Mark Buehrle is no lock to sign with the Cardinals. The Cards aren't apt to pay full price, and Buehrle isn't necessarily desperate to pitch close to home.
Jayson Stark posted a new column for ESPN yesterday; let's take a glance at the trade rumors therein.
- Miguel Tejada's out until August, so that obviously means he won't be traded this season. Right? Wrong - Stark and an AL exec think $30MM or so due to Tejada for the remaining 2.3 seasons on his contract would allow him to pass through waivers. Miggy could be a hot topic for the August 31st trade deadline. You may recall that last August Andruw Jones was placed on waivers, claimed, and pulled back. Andruw called the affair "rude." Here is a refresher on the waiver trade rules, in case you want to get a head start.
- Steve Trachsel is the Oriole Stark expects to be traded at the July deadline. They should move fast, as Trachsel's stock is plummetting as expected.
- Stark says Kenny Williams was asking for a ton for Mark Buehrle before extension talks picked up: two of each team's best three prospects. Makes sense; ask for that, and then settle for one Grade A prospect if you can get it. Should Buehrle end up back on the trading block, the White Sox may have to break down and grant that 72 hour negotiating window for an extension. Stark's source makes a great point - if Buehrle signs with the Cardinals this offseason, the draft picks going to the team he departs will be the 38th pick and a second-rounder. Not that thrilling. But still, the smart money is on a contract extension with the White Sox for Buehrle.
- Matt Morris is officially on the market, as he should be. He's over his head with a 3.39 ERA, but remains a solid, veteran innings eater with over 70 innings of playoff experience. Morris will make another $5MM this year, $9.5MM in '08, and $2MM signing bonus due at the end of his contract. He's also got a $9MM club option for '09 with a $1MM buyout attached. Giants GM Brian Sabean has always been a buyer at the trade deadline, acquiring players like Jason Schmidt, Kenny Lofton, Sidney Ponson, and Randy Winn. Getting a decent prospect for Morris will be a new situation for Sabean.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News spoke extensively with both Giants GM Brian Sabean and Barry Bonds, and some interesting information emerged.
First off, Bonds' comments seem to indicate he'd waive his no-trade clause if a need arose. Let's say he hits #756 July 18th against Rich Hill. That would work out nicely for the Giants, as the interest in Bonds as a sideshow would wane after he broke the record. Sabean could ditch the $8MM or so remaining on his 2007 contract and the Giants could finally move on. Bonds might be a nice fit for the Mariners for a couple of months. The Twins would benefit even more, but that scenario seems highly unlikely. The Angels or A's could definitely make a push and find some room for Bonds.
Baggarly's article also has Brian Sabean acknowledging that the Giants may have to go into sell mode. Baggarly names Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, Rich Aurilia, Matt Morris, Pedro Feliz, and Steve Kline as veterans who could be sent packing. Might as well throw in Ryan Klesko, Randy Winn, and Dave Roberts. If you're going to have a firesale, don't hold back.
The Red Sox could snag Winn or Roberts as a stopgap in center field, but both are signed through 2009. Not the easiest contracts to move. Matt Morris could net a nice return. With a 3.21 ERA, has has to be at the peak of his value. He earns $9.5MM this year, $9.5MM in '08, and has a club option for $9MM with a $1MM buyout attached for '09. The Mariners, Phillies, Braves, and Astros could be possibilities.
The always reliable Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Matt Morris is close to signing a deal with the Giants. This has been speculated for some time now, and I created a projection for Morris as a Giant about a month ago. I figured I'd try to get some more mileage out of that RotoAuthority post.
New at RotoAuthority today is my Prince Fielder projection. Prince is nearly a lock for 30 HR, and a must-have in fantasy baseball.
Finally, we've got new material at HoopsBuzz - seems that Ron Artest has demanded a trade.
This morning, I mentioned that Matt Morris could be considered Plan C for Walt Jocketty. Looks like it might be time for Plan D.
Joe Strauss's article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today confirms the Cardinals' lowball offer to Morris of $13MM over two years with a $7MM option for the third. Strauss quoted Jocketty on agent Barry Axelrod's reaction to the offer:
"If we don't get one of these guys we still feel we have a pretty strong rotation," Jocketty said. "We wanted to get a little depth; it might've allowed us to do some other things. We'll have to go to Plan C. We have a lot of plans left."
If that's not enough for you, I spoke with Bernie Miklasz today, also of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to Bernie:
"They've been rejected by Morris.... not officially, but Jocketty was bummed about the response he got from Axelrod."
Alexrod's response probably indicated that Morris wasn't going to be giving the Cardinal discount after the club came crawling back to him.
My count of Jocketty's Plans so far differs from his. I've got A.J. Burnett as Plan A, Javier Vazquez as Plan B, and Matt Morris as Plan C. Despite Jocketty's posturing, Adam Wainwright isn't ready for a Major League rotation. Wainwright avoided surgery after he finished 2004 with an aching elbow, and he went on to post OK numbers at Triple A Memphis. He definitely needs more seasoning. Don't expect the Cards to open the season with both Anthony Reyes and Wainwright in the rotation.
So let's figure this out: who's Plan D? Let's scan the Top 50 Free Agents List. The Cards are too cheap for Roger Clemens even if he would play for them. Kevin Millwood, Jeff Weaver, and Jarrod Washburn will all cost at least as much as Morris. This takes us all the way down to #42, Jason Johnson. Johnson might be had $11MM over two years, and he's my guess for Plan D. Of course, if it comes to that, it might make sense to just hang on to Jason Marquis and find another way to acquire an outfielder.
Sadly for frustrated Cardinals fans, it's come to this: Plan C. A distant Plan C, at that. After falling short on #2 starter types A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez, Walt Jocketty confirmed his interest in good ol' Matt Morris.
Jayson Stark quoting an anonymous GM yesterday about the Cardinals:
"That's a team whose window to win may be closing. They'll still be good. But they're getting thinner, and they're getting older, and they're getting more vulnerable."
This is undeniable. The Cards aren't packed with young talent in the pipeline, and a couple of stars like Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen might be creeping towards their decline phase.
That's why signing Matt Morris is a bad move. It doesn't seem like the type of move the Cardinals would make. They were planning on letting him go because they knew he wasn't worth $24MM over three years and they refused to pay it. Now they might hand him that money anyway because there's nothing better and cheaper out there.
Continuing to pitch in front of a solid St. Louis defense will be good for Morris's career as he becomes a finesse pitcher. A few weeks ago, I gave an '06 projection for Morris as a San Francisco Giant. I said a 4.41 ERA with that defense; he might manage 4.25 with some luck as a Cardinal in '06. U.S.S. Mariner said it best on October in their Free Agent Landmines post:
"Since the all-star break, Matt Morris has been, well, awful. His numbers across the board have taken a nosedive. His strikeout rate has fallen and he’s getting lit up like a Christmas tree. He has a history of arm problems, and at this point, wouldn’t be a good bet even on a one year contract. Given his reputation and his overall totals, someone is certainly going to overpay."
Looks like that someone could be the Cardinals.
It's no great mystery, but my sources have confirmed that the team with the three-year deal on the table for Matt Morris is the San Francisco Giants. The deal is expected to be in the range of $24MM.
Morris is projected to go 11-13 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.36 WHIP for the Giants in 2006.
Thanks to Alex S.